Mark Santow

Mark Santow is an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. His book Saul Alinsky and the Dilemma of Race in the Postwar City is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press. He is presently writing a book on the history of homeownership. Santow blogs at chantsdemocratic.blogspot.com.

Recent Articles

Battle of the Romney Plans

(Flickr / caniswolfie)

Consider the Detroit area, including suburbs like Sterling Heights, Grosse Pointe, and Warren, whose segregation presented such challenges to George when he was governor and then housing and urban development secretary.

Thirty percent of students in the Detroit area are now African American and 39 percent are “economically disadvantaged”—that is, eligible for free or subsidized lunches. In Detroit, 88 percent are African American and 85 percent lunch-eligible. Virtually all are from households with income of less than $22,000 a year for a family of four.

The Cost of Living Apart

Without neighborhood integration, Mitt Romney’s school-choice plan won’t close the achievement gap. George Romney knew better.

(Flickr/JFXie)

Politicians and experts typically refer to schools as “failing” if they are filled with low-income children with low test scores. Faced with enormous challenges, such schools may be doing as well as they possibly can, though. African American children from low-income urban families often suffer from health problems that lead to school absences; from frequent or sustained parental unemployment that provokes family crises; from rent or mortgage defaults causing household moves that entail changes of teachers and schools, with a resulting loss of instructional continuity; and from living in communities with high levels of crime and disorder, where schools spend more time on discipline and less on instruction and where stress interferes with academic achievement. With school segregation continuing to increase, these children are often isolated from the positive peer influences of middle-class children who were regularly read to when young, whose homes are filled with books, whose environment includes many college-educated professional role models, and whose parents have greater educational experience and the motivation such experience brings as well as the time, confidence, and ability to monitor schools for academic quality.